Run for your Life
Barry himself disappeared and a great deal seemed to happen after that. The Brigadier was hauled off to his cell. Binnie and I, rather pu2zlingly, had our pictures taken by one of Barry’s men using a flash camera.
Afterwards, we were taken by way of the back stairs to a bedroom on the next floor. It was comfortable enough, with dark mahogany furniture and brass bedstead, a faded Indian carpet on the floor. There was a familiar-looking suitcase on the bed. As 1 approached it, Barry came into the room.
‘I had your stufl7 brought up from the boat, old lad. I don’t think those sea-going togs of yours will be exactly appropriate for this little affair. Suit, collar and tie, raincoat – or something of that order. Can you oblige ?’
‘Everything except the raincoat.’
*No problem there.’
Barry turned to look at him. ‘As impeccable as usuaL All done up to go to somebody’s funeral.’
‘Yours maybe?’ Binnie said and I noticed that his forehead was damp with sweat.
Barry chuckled, not in the least put out. “You always were a comfort, Binnie boy.’ He turned to me. ‘There’s a bathroom through there. Plenty of hot water. No bars on the window, but it’s fifty feet down to the courtyard and two men on the door, so behave yourselves. I’ll see you later.’
The door closed behind him. Binnie went to the window, opened it and stood there breathing deeply on the damp air as if to steady himself.
I said, ‘Are you all right?’
He turned, that look on his face again. Tor what he has done to Norah Murphy he is a dead man walking, Major. He is mine for the taking when the time comes. Nothing can alter that.’
Something cold moved inside me then, fear, I suppose, at his utter implacability which went so much beyond mere hatred. There was a power in this boy, an elemental force that would carry him through most things.
A dead man walking, he had called Frank Barry, and I wondered what he would call me on that day of reckoning when he discovered my true motives.
Which was all decidedly unpleasant, so I left him there by the window staring out to sea, went into the bathroom and ran a bath.
I dressed in a brown polo-neck sweater, Donegal tweed suit and brown brogues. The end result coupled with the bath and a shave was something of an improvement. Binnie, who seemed to have recovered his spirits a little, sat on the edge of the bed watching me. As I pulled on my jacket and checked the general effect in the wardrobe mirror he whistled softly.
*By God, Major, but you look grand. Just like one of them fellas in the whiskey adverts in the magazines.’
I had the distinct impression that he might break into laughter at any moment, an unusual event indeed. ‘And the toe of my boot to you, too, you young bastard.’
We were prevented from carrying the conversation any further for at that moment the door opened and the guards ordered us outside.
This time we were taken all the way down to the kitchen, where we were given a really excellent meal with another bottle of that Sancerre Barry had liked so much to share between us. It was all rather pleasant in spite of the guards in the background.
As we were finishing, Barry appeared, the formidable Dooley at his back. He had an old trenchcoat over one arm which he dropped across the back of a chair.
‘That should keep out the weather and these should get you past any road blocks you run into, military or police.’
There were two Military Intelligence identity cards, each with its photo, which explained the camera work earlier. Binnie was a Sergeant O’Meara. I had become Captain Geoffrey Hamilton. There was also a very authentic-looking travel permit authorizing me to proceed from Strabane to interrogate an IRA suspect named Malloy being held at police headquarters there.
I passed Binnie his ID card. These are really very good indeed.’
‘They should be. They’re the real thing.’ He turned to Binnie. ‘The boys will take you down to the garage now so you can check the car. The Major and I will be along in a few minutes.’